The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have something of a cross-town rivalry, though historically the Lakers have dominated the matchup. However, over the past few years, the Clippers have been the ones coming out on top, thanks in large part to a trade for point guard Chris Paul after then-Commissioner David Stern nixed a deal that would have sent him to the Lakers.
Since then, the Lakers have largely struggled, and have now missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, the Clippers have somewhat thrived, putting together a solid playoff team built around Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan.
They haven’t won any championship or even made it to the Western Conference Finals, but the organization has still improved greatly when compared to their decades of poor play. This improvement has led to questions about who now has the upper hand in the battle for Los Angeles.
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer weighed in during an interview with Business Insider:
“We’ve been kicking the Lakers’ ass the last several years,” Ballmer told Business Insider. “Let’s just face it. We don’t have the championships that the Lakers do. We don’t have any of that. But in the world of sports, it’s ‘What did you do this season?’ And all we can control is how we do this season, next game, next game, and I’m proud of what we’re doing.
“OK, yeah, we didn’t have a championship … but we’re doing well.”
Despite the Clippers relative success over the past few years, the purple and gold remain the more popular franchise by far, and they definitely own the hearts of Southern Californians. Still, with their rivals rebuilding, the Clippers have been hoping to cut into the Lakers’ market share, going as far as to cover their championship banners and retired jerseys during Clipper home games at Staples Center.
It will be interesting to see if Ballmer’s comments provoke any kind of response from the Lakers, but a war of words is unlikely to escalate much since Ballmer has other things to worry about with both Paul and Griffin having the ability to leave the team this summer in free agency.
The Lakers, meanwhile, will be busy deciding who to select with the second pick in the NBA Draft.